Meet Flushing’s Adult Day Care Owner

By Matthew Fischetti | [email protected]

New Yorkers are getting older. But that’s exactly where Adult Day Care Centers, like Big Apple Adult Day Care Center, can come into play.

Adult Day Care Centers like the one Anna Lo operate in Flushing, helping provide seniors with access to socialization through programming like dancing or helping them get medication or groceries.

“When you’re taking care of patients, It’s also like taking care of seniors, because they have a lot of illnesses, a lot of paperwork, documentation,” said Lo, who used to manage medical offices prior to entering the adult day care industry.

In essence, Adult Day Care centers can serve as a supplement to long-term care placement, which has been projected to be short 1.5 million workers needed to attend to the aging population, according to a report published in Crains New York. Lo said in her interview that social day care works as a package in the state – on days seniors don’t have home health aides they have social day care and vice versa.

“This adult day care program is actually to help the government take care of the seniors that are coming on. There’s, a lot of baby boomers who are going into retirement age. And so, you know, as they get older, they’re going to need more and more assistance with daily living activities, such as bathing, going to see the doctor, cooking and housekeeping,” said Lo.

At Lo’s locations, the adult day care centers offer a variety of services: including computer lessons, mahjong, dance lessons, chinese calligraphy, beadwork, tai chi and much more. Once a month members of the center get together and put on a show.

“They take a lot of pride in that,” Lo said. “They really put on a professional show. And I take pride in that in my center because we just, we actually give them in their golden years. A beautiful place for them to come and to live their best life.”

One thing Lo said she hopes to see in the industry’s future is tighter vetting of adult day care centers, as some are only a fraction of the space and don’t provide the same standard of care that her center does.

Lo said that the Queens Chamber of Commerce was incredibly helpful getting the day care to operate during Covid, when Suzan King from the Chamber helped connect her with different grants and low interest loans to secure her nearly 10,000 square foot space.

Lo also expressed the sheer confusion industries like hers faced during the pandemic, with seniors worried about contracting covid from home health aides.

“So it was a really dangerous time that we’re living in. And a lot of people didn’t know what to do. But social adult daycare has really helped the seniors stay alive and also get groceries,” she said.  “We help seniors, we got groceries for seniors. And we delivered it to seniors’ homes along with their meals.”

Adams Announces $75 Million for “The Hole”

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

 

Last week Mayor Adams announced funding for $75 Million in funding  to cover resiliency measures and more for the Brooklyn-Queens border nabe known as “The Hole.”

The 12 block neighborhood straddling East New York and Lindenwood (also known as Jewel Streets)  is a low-lying area without adequate stormwater and sewer infrastructure, leaving residents with continuous flooding.

Starting this month, Hizzoner’s office will begin a series of community planning proposals centered around goals like creating green infrastructure, outlining a “community-supported” vision for city-owned land in the area, improving street infrastructure and pedestrian safety, creating more jobs in the nabe, and developing a long term land use plan.

$2.5 million of the funding will come from the federal Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery funds – which will go directly towards resiliency measures and creating affordable housing.

In the northern area, the administration will be investing $72.8 million in new resiliency infrastructure while the southern area community engagement sessions will be used to plan the path forward to redirect water overflow to Jamaica Bay, as well as other ways to reduce flood risk.

The first of the five public engagement sessions will kick off on June 24 2023.

Local officials and advocates in the area celebrated the announcement, for the oft-neglected nabe.

“The long-overdue attention city agencies are giving the Jewel Streets area can be accredited to the consistent commitment of various community stakeholders to amplify the voices of the residents. The commitment and organizing of the East New York Community Land Trust and Brooklyn Community Board 5, in partnership with the office of Councilman Charles Barron, is an example of a small local partnership having a large holistic impact,” Councilman Charles Barron said in a statement

“We’ve come a long way here, but there’s still plenty more that needs to be done, and this plan will create an outline to bring us to where we want to be. I am looking forward to seeing what the future brings for the Jewel Streets area, and I believe that future will be a bright one,” said  Councilwoman Ariola.

A final recommendation for the area will be released by the admin by early 2024 and a final neighborhood plan will be in place later on in the year.

“The decades of government ignoring this community and leaving residents to fend for themselves against regular flooding ends now,” Mayor Adams said in a statement. “The infrastructure, quality-of-life improvements, and economic opportunities we are prepared to deliver for this community would be a game-changer. We are excited to bring this plan to the residents, get their feedback, and chart a path forward together.”

Melinda Katz: The Outside-Insider

By Matthew Fischetti[email protected]

It was precisely what she was criticized for in her first run for Queens District Attorney, that Melinda Katz believes has been one of her strongest assets: not being a career prosecutor or in law enforcement. 

The former City councilwoman, assemblywoman and Queens borough president believes her work in politics and being a manager made her suited for the role of being the top prosecutor in Queens. 

“I was never a career prosecutor. So when I came in, the whole world changed, I knew the law. I knew I was a good lawyer. And I knew I was a good manager. And so we had to figure out how to think outside the box,” District Attorney Melinda Katz said in a recent sit-down interview with the Queens Ledger. 

Katz said that while the world shut down in her third month in office, she prepared her staff by getting hundreds of computers and prepared her staff to go all virtual.

She said that one of the biggest challenges facing the borough are guns on the street. On her first day in office, she created the Violent Crime Enterprise Bureau by combining the Narcotics Investigations and Gang Violence Bureaus in order to tackle the issue.

“We couldn’t stop. We just had no opportunity to stop. People still had their rights,” said Katz.

The issue of guns has gotten more difficult with the recent proliferation of “ghost guns” — which are untraceable firearms.

“They’re happening in every neighborhood, in every community, all across the borough of Queens County —happening in people’s basements and in their apartments,” she said.

In early April of this year, her office indicted a St. Albans man on over 600 felonies in the state’s first prosecution of an international ghost gun trafficking operation.

Katz said that the proliferation of illegal smoke shops takes time, as investigations by undercover agents have to secure over a pound in order to produce a felony charge, while the Sheriff’s office has more direct authority on the issue.

“We take it, we spend the resources and we do it,” said Katz.

Katz believes one of her strongest assets is knowing the communities she is prosecuting. She has made her Assistant District Attorneys participate in community activities so that they can know the community.

“I believe in my heart of hearts that to be a good prosecutor, you need to know the community.  And that has been priceless, to be honest about it,” Katz said.

“It was a priceless knowledge to know the neighborhoods and know the community, and be able to work in the community, and by the way, have the faith of the community,” she continued.

Katz is currently facing primary challenges from Judge George Grasso, a former NYPD cop turned lawyer who is running on a tough-on-crime approach. Katz is also facing a challenge for Debian Daniels, a public defender.

The primary for the Queens District Attorney Race will occur on June 27 and the general election will occur on November 7.

Porcelli: The Other Side of Education (4/12)

CTE Shop Class: Now It’s High-Tech

CTE & Career Opportunities

Graduation season is right around the corner. Which graduates have the best employment opportunities? For decades to come, graduates of all levels of CTE programs will enjoy some of the greatest job choices, and wages, for their newly acquired skills.

As discussed here continuously, the reduction of trade education programs in most school districts has created a tremendous shortage of skilled workers in all trades, causing a classic problem of supply and demand. Employers in every industry cannot find enough workers to fill their needs. This nationwide shortage will likely continue for decades to come… Unless we act now!

Despite this commonly accepted truth, even schools that recognize the growing need for CTE programs, and are beginning to expand them, so far do not have enough available resources to keep up with the economy’s demand for workers.

The most experienced skilled workers are retiring from trade jobs at much higher rates than current training programs can replace them. In addition, more skilled workers than ever before will be needed to fill growing demand as the economy expands. The combined effect of growing job demand, shrinking numbers of entry level workers, and rapidly increasing levels of skilled worker retirements, has created a “perfect storm” of virtually unlimited career opportunities for graduates of all CTE programs from high schools, community colleges, and universities.

This phenomenon is again amply demonstrated this week at the New York International Auto Show, where every display is focused on the growing demand for, and availability of, electric vehicles. One point that’s stressed by every presenter is the growing need for workers qualified to build and maintain EV’s and the charging-station infrastructure that they will require. There is a growing realization that with the current shortage of electricians, and other trade workers, we do not have the available workforce needed to implement the transition to electrically powered transportation.

The Auto Show not only illustrates the need for workers in the electric auto industry, but visitors should recognize that the show is made possible through the work of hundreds of skilled workers in every trade.

From the workers who constructed the space, the carpenters who build the displays, the audio and video technicians who animate them, the artists who make everything enticing, the culinary specialists who feed the crowd, and the countless other skilled trade workers involved, such grand events could not be possible without the skills they acquired from CTE.

Perhaps the current mandate to promote zero-emission electric vehicles can be the force necessary to make the public, government, and education officials realize that we must devote more resources to career and technical education everywhere – and we must do it NOW!

Congratulations to all new CTE graduates. Be thankful you chose to learn skills that can provide you with almost unlimited opportunities for career success – with little or no debt!

 

 

CTE is Respectable Again!

Academic & Trade Education are Two Sides of a Coin.

This column explores the impact of CTE programs on students, society, and the economy.

Mike Porcelli: life-long mechanic, adjunct professor, and host of Autolab Radio, is committed to restoring trade education in schools before it’s too late. https://www.linkedin.com/in/mike-porcelli-master-mechanic-allasecerts/

“King of Ridgewood” Joey G Lives On In Community’s Memory

Sanitation Worker, DJ and Local Legend Passes Away at 51

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

In the morning, Joseph Guarisco would wake up early to clean the streets of New York City. At night, he would keep the party going as a local DJ. And in between, he put a smile on the faces of the Ridgewood community with his infectious warmth and charm.

Joseph Guarisco, more commonly known as “Joey G” unexpectedly passed away on March 8 at 51-years-old. Joey G was seemingly everywhere in the community, family and friends recalled. Whether it was neighborhood cleanups, coaching soccer at Christ The King, DJing for Sweet Sixteens or birthdays, Joey G was there and is fondly remembered by members of the Ridgewood community.

Marco Conter, who knew Joey G for 18 years working for the Sanitation Department, said that Jey G was one-of-a kind. He never saw him in a bad mood, always had a lot of energy and would crack jokes about himself.

“He was the only guy who I knew who would sing at six in the morning,” Conter recalled at his funeral, noting how he would still be wiping the crust out of his eyes while Joey G brimmed with energy.

Steven Meditz, who knew Joey G since they were in fifth grade when they attended St. Matthias together, quickly became friends and bonded over their love of music.

“He was larger than life and everybody loved him. He was very involved with everything. Always organizing events, coaching for the kids, DJing, creating events, reunions for St. Matthias and Christ The King,” Meditz recalled in a Zoom interview. “He was always the center of attention.”

Meditz, a fellow lover of Freestyle music (a form of electronic dance music that was popular in the 80s and 90s) even began DJing with Joey G in their highschool years.

He recalled the many late nights carrying the “coffin” of DJ equipment from Fresh Pond Road, and early morning breakfasts at diners.

“He made you feel like you were friends for years. Even if you just met him. He just had that personality, that charisma,” Christina Meditz, Steven Meditz’s wife, who knew Joey since they attended high school together at Christ The King, recalled in a Zoom interview.

 

Joey G with his wife Vicky and his two sons Michael and Nicholas

She sat two seats ahead of him in homeroom class and said that he reminded her of a brother-like figure.

“He reminded me so much of my own brother – it was crazy, resemblance wise, attitude wise. And he acted like a brother, protective and caring,” she recalled.“I would bet my life savings that you would not find someone to find a bad word to say about him.”

Robert Schoemig, the owner of the Avenue Restaurant Bar and Grill in Ridgewood, had many memories of Joey G. They first met at Christ The King but also had many memories of him helping out at The Avenue.

Joey G used to DJ at the eatery and bar during ‘Freestyle Fridays.’ While the music waned in popularity in subsequent years, Joey G would still come out and support the restaurant.

After pandemic restrictions were lifted, Joey G “brought in the troops” to the restaurant and DJ’d to try and help the business. He also came to watch nearly every Super Bowl at The Avenue, regardless of who was playing. During a recent Super Bowl game, which he couldn’t attend, Joey G still sent his kids to go and watch the game to keep the tradition alive.

“He was the party. He was the guy to talk to. If you needed something, he would get up in the middle of the night and come help you, Schoemig recalled in a phone interview. “You know that wasn’t just for me, that was for all his friends. He’d offer the shirt off of his back.”

Arlene Lomastro knew Joey G since her sons worked with him at a local deli in their teenage years and said she remembered him by his respectful nature, big smile and always being a source of laughter and fun.

“Every time he would pass on the truck, he would see me jump off the truck, hug me and just tell his partner. ‘Oh, she makes the best penne alla vodka you ever wonder to taste,’” Lomastro recalled in a phone interview.

Joey G is survived by his wife Vicky and his two sons, Michael and Nicholas; as well as his father Michael, his mother Josephine and his sister Rossana.

A GoFundMe is raising money for the family to deal with expenses, which can be found at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/joseph-guariscos-family.

John McDonagh’s Irish New York

40-year cabbie driver shares his stories

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

 

John McDonagh doesn’t care about St. Patrick’s Day.

 

“I’m sort of Irish every day and every week,” the 68-year-old Middle Village resident said in a recent phone interview. The first generation resident, whose family is from Donegal and County Tyrone, has steeped himself in Irish history, culture and news with his weekly radio show Radio Free Eireann on WBAI. 

 

“So I don’t need to wear green hats or green shamrocks to say – kiss me, I’m Irish,” McDonagh said. “I sort of go way beyond that.”

 

The WBAI show originally started as a way for Sinn Fein and the Irish Republicans to have an outlet, where they could express their point-of-view unlike how they were limited in Ireland.These days, since the country has seen peace, McDonagh has moved into more cultural coverage, where the Irish writer and former political candidate Malachy McCourt is the second mic.

 

He still doesn’t even really like to attend the parades. Back in 1981, he and other political activists were kicked out of the 5th Ave Parade  for expressing support of the 1981 hunger strike led by Bobby Sands, which was 17 days in at the time.

 

“The irony of it all is now the parade carries a banner with Bobby Sands his picture on it! So they didn’t allow it when he was on hunger strike, but now that he’s dead they support him,” McDonagh said. “He needed support when he was alive, not when he died.”

 

For most of his life, McDonagh has been a taxi driver.

 

“The normal career move for the son of Irish immigrants is you graduate high school, do your time in the service. And then you take the test for the Sanitation Department, Fire Department or the NYPD. But when I got out, they were laying off cops and firemen,” McDonagh explained, having left the service at the end of 1975.

 

“So I went and got my hack license thinking I don’t really drive for a little while,” he said. “And then 40 years later, here I am.”

 

In those 40 years, McDonagh has seen a lot. 

 

Back in his heyday, when a customer said they wanted to go to the Lower East Side, “he wasn’t going to an art gallery like it would be today, he was going into a shooting gallery.”

 

Customers would often ask to go to a run down building, which McDonagh compared to the post-bombed building of Dresden, where a few things could happen.

 

The customer would either come out of the building with guns and dope in his hand, making the taxi driver a wheelman; or the passenger would come out beaten by a drug dealer and get his doorman to pay his fare back in the Upper East Side. 

 

McDonagh did say that with the first option, “at least guys who rob drug dealers tend to tip better.”

 

His cabbie driving also led to political activism in the early 2000s. When the Republican Convention was hosted in New York City during 2004, McDonagh helped found the group Cabbies Against Bush, which offered free rides for delegates to the Kennedy or Newark airport (not including tip and toll), if they had one way tickets to Baghdad. 

 

He even went on Fox News to talk about the issue, which was supposed to be a five minute hit but barely lasted over one.

 

“So when I got on to Neil Cavuto, he asked me about tipping and I said, if the war profits from Halliburton, and Bechtel can trickle down to the drivers, it might not be bad.”

 

After the interview, McDonagh said he gave his best Ed Koch impression, asking “Hey, how am I doing?” to visible anger. 

 

He then bolted out of the studio, not wanting Fox to cancel his car back to Queens.

 

“No one knows why I’m running. So they’re following me: You got security interns, producers, – I had like a conga line behind me. And they were chasing me like an al-Qaeda suspect through Fox. So I didn’t know how to get out of the bloody place. I’m running up and down escalators and cubicles,” McDOnagh recalled with laughter.

 

He eventually made it to 6th Ave., where he hopped in the car and told the driver to go. When he got back to Queens, he told the driver that he would hope to see him again.

 

“I don’t think so,” he bluntly replied. 

 

A lot has changed over the years as a cab driver, McDonagh said. Some things are obvious, like the end of checker cabs, but also the way drivers and their riders would interact has greatly diminished since the advent of apps and cashless pay systems.

 

It’s part of the reason why McDonagh has compiled his decades of stories into a play called Off The Meter, chronicling the crazy adventures of manning a yellow cab, which morphed from years of telling jokes and stories at local bars.

McDonagh has an upcoming performance of the play on March 25 at the Irish American Heritage Museum in Albany. 

 

McDonagh also shared with the Queens Ledger that he is currently working with a production company in Dublin to try and produce a screenplay that is a fictionalized version of what it was like to live in the Queens and the Bronx in the early 1990s, focusing on how Italian-Americans and Irish-Americans interacted and got along.

 

“I’m under no illusions of anything getting produced, like you could do a play because you can rent out a theater and just do it. To get a movie done… I don’t know how it gets done. I mean, somebody has to be attached. It has to be seen by the right people,” McDonagh said.

 

“To me, it’s a million-to-one shot. Like the rest of my life. I’m taking it.”

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the parade McDonagh was kicked out of, it was the 5th Ave. Parade not the St Pat’s For All Parade. We apologize for the error

Scoop: Goldman receives Western Queens pols’ endorsements for civil court judge bid

Would be first openly gay judge in Queens if elected

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

 

Michael Goldman, a 53 year old attorney, has launched a campaign for Civil Court Judge in Queen County’s first  Municipal Court District. If elected, he would be the first openly gay judge to represent Queens.

The civil court justice manages cases where financial relief is up to $50,000, including issues such as housing and small claims. The 1st municipal court district covers Astoria and stretches over to Long Island City and slices of Sunnyside and Woodside.

Goldman has received a series of endorsements from Queens politicians including Councilwoman Julie Won; Assemblyman Juan Ardilla; State Senator Jessica Ramos; State Senator Michael Gianaris; and Borough President Donovan Richards. He also received endorsements from Queens-based district leaders like Nick Berkowitz; Émilia Decaudin; Matthew DiStefano; Breeana Mulligan; Antonio Alfonso; and Melissa Sklarz.

”For far too long, queer New Yorkers living in Queens have had no one on the bench who understands our lives, families, and experiences,” Decaudin said in a statement. “I am excited to support Michael’s campaign—he is someone who will not just finally bring this perspective to the New York City Civil Court, but the qualifications, character, and work ethic to be a judge that our community can be proud of.

Goldman has over 25 years of legal experience, having worked in private criminal defense and civil practice prior to serving as a Senior Court Attorney to Justice Jessica Earle-Gargan. Goldman previously ran to represent the Civil Court Judge for all of Queens County in 2021 and lost by just under 2500 votes in a close election.

“I am proud to endorse Michael Goldman for Civil Court, to become the first openly gay judge to be elected in our borough,” Ardilla said in a statement. “Michael knows what it’s like to be the victim of an unjust system that goes against who New Yorkers are, who we love and how we wish to live our lives.”

Goldman was inspired to practice law by family friend Joel Blumenfeld who was a Legal Aid lawyer in the Bronx and a Criminal Judge in Queens, and said that Blumenfeld’s philosophy helped shape his views on how to be a judge.

“If you’re going to be judging someone, you should judge a complete person, not just a case number on a page,” Goldman said in a phone interview with the Queens Ledger. “So it became my desire to follow his example and eventually become a judge.”

Goldman said that while he didn’t consider his sexuality the “main part of his campaign” that he was proud of being able to openly run as a gay man. Goldman recounted a story of when he was a young lawyer in Miami, one of the firm’s partners asked him if he was gay. Goldman said that he was fired just two weeks later.

“I had no recourse at the time. And to have come from that experience, in just over 25 years – to not be able to be a judge and now to do so without having to hide that part of me, is to me,  an amazing advancement that our society has made,” he said.

Goldman also highlighted his background in various aspects in law as reasons why he feels he is qualified for the position.

“I’ve been working for judges mostly in the Queens courts for over 20 years now, both civil and criminal,” he said. “I’ve spent [time] in foreclosure parts, in discovery parts, in divorce parts. And this has given me a very broad view of the issues a judge faces each day.”

Goldman continued to say that his experience  helped shape his views on how to improve the efficiency of the courthouse and that having practiced on both sides of the bench has given him “a wide understanding of the best way to function and to run a courtroom.”

Goldman currently does not have any competitors in the race at time of publication, but candidates are able to petition for the seat until April 6.

The primary for the election will be held on June 27. 

 

2023 Queens DA Race: George Grasso

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

George Grasso got his start as a beat cop in Jamaica.

While patrolling the streets of Southeast Queens, Grasso worked his way up through law school taking night classes – eventually reaching high level positions like First Deputy Police Commissioner under the Bloomberg Administration and most recently serving as the Administrative Judge for Queens County Supreme Court for Criminal Matters.

But today Grasso, 65, is challenging Melinda Katz for Queens District Attorney.

Grasso said that one of his main focuses as Queens District Attorney would be to enforce quality-of-life crimes such as fare evasion.

“Seriously, make that a top priority,” Grasso said in a recent sitdown interview. “Anybody jumping over a turnstile is going to be subject to arrest, then subject to a search for illegal weapons and a warrant check.”

Different academic studies have questioned the effectiveness of New York City policing policies in the 1990s.

“There is much debate over the impact of New York policing tactics on reductions on crime and disorder in the 1990s. Broken windows policing alone did not bring down the crime rates (Eck & Maguire, 2000), but it is also likely that the police played some role,” a post from the Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy reads.

The Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy then cites a series of academic studies running from 1998 to 2006, each attributing different significance levels of broken windows policing on crime rates, ranging from large to non-existent.

Grasso also said he would highly support measures that would return judicial discretion over dangerousness standards. New York State is one of the few states that doesn’t allow judges to formally use dangerousness for bail requirements.

While he wants Justices to be able to have the dangerousness standard as a tool, Grasso also said that he would have a next day review that defendants could file for if they believe the discretion has been inappropriately applied.

While he believes that laws such as the 2019 bail reform law went too far, he stressed in his interview that he was never the “lock them up” judge and touted his record of supporting program and diversion courts.

Specifically, Grasso highlighted his support of overdose avoidance and recovery courts which he oversaw during his time as Bronx Criminal Court Supervising Judge.

In conjunction with the Bronx District Attorney, the Overdose Avoidance Courts utilized a pre-plea model in which participants could get help without first entering a guilty plea to their criminal charges, per the Daily News.

Grasso commended Mayor Adams, who he knows back from his cop days, and said that the problem with crime is that there needs to be more District Attorneys like Mike McMahon on Staten Island since he “clearly and unambiguously embraces his role as chief law enforcement officer.”

“Mayor Adams even though he’s saying the right things, even though the police commissioner is saying the right thing –  and I believe they they want to do the right things, there is still kind of out there twisting in the wind,” Grasso said when asked how we would evaluate Hizzoner’s first year dealing with crime, without aforementioned changes in bail reform and having stronger district attorneys.

Grasso said that one of his main focuses would be to tackle crime in the 109 Precinct in Flushing, which he characterized as “off the charts.”

Grasso came to this newspaper’s office with printed sheets of COMPTSTAT numbers, the city’s tracking system for crime, which showed data from Jan. 30 to Feb. 5. In the 109 Precinct, the seven major crime indices (which include murder, rape, robbery, felony assault, burglary, grand larceny and grand larceny auto) rose 74.5 percent in the last week (89 vs 41), 19.5 percent in the 28 day snapshot (276 vs 231) and in the year-to-date category rose 16.2 percent (345 vs 297).

Grasso said that if elected one of the first things he would do is tackle the issue of crime in the Flushing area.

“I’m having a meeting with the precinct commander in the 109, the borough commander of Queens north, any leaders of any merchant associations and people who are involved with these issues,” he said. “And we’re gonna put a very aggressive plan together to get to the core of these issues, to figure out these people who are engaging in repetitive theft, that people who are engaging in aggressive panhandling and following people to banks, and standing behind them while they’re on line and asking them for money.”

The primary for the Queens District Attorney Race will take place on June 23.

*A previous version of this article reported that, if elected, Grasso would subject individuals to “search warrants” if they evade transportation fare. Instead, the individual would be subject to a search for illegal weapons and a warrant check.

Hailie Kim challenges Julie Won in City Council District 26

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

Hailie Kim grew up in Sunnyside.

Hailie Kim is running to represent the Sunnyside neighborhood she grew up in.

Kim, 29, is one of three candidates currently challenging Julie Won to represent City Council District 26 which stretches across chunks of Western Queens nabes like Sunnyside, Astoria, Long Island City, Woodside and Western Maspeth.

Kim, a 29-year-old professor, self described democratic-socialist and organizer is running on one main issue: education. It was her main issue when she ran for the seat in 2021. But Kim emphasizes that it was still her main issue after the City Council voted for the mayor’s budget, which the Comptroller’s office has estimated to total $469 million.

“I would make sure that there are no more cuts to public education in the next budget. I would, at the very least, negotiate to a place where I can get to a yes,” Kim said in a recent sit-down interview.

While Won did vote for the budget, she did secure over $5 million in capital funding for schools which are funds that help pay for construction, upgrades and more. Also,

Kim also emphasized that she would support measures such as reducing class sizes and institute bilingual education in order to improve reading and education scores.

“I think for students who need more actual in school, like structure, who are English language learners, having funds and resources to help them with their reading levels.”

In 2019, only 47.4% of students scored proficient in reading and only 45.6% of students scored proficient in math.

Beyond just education, Kim has said she would be a greater check on the Adams administration.

“The mayor was able to take advantage of the lack of experience of a freshman City Council. And that he was really able to strong arm them into just voting whatever way he wanted,” Kim said. “Because that budget was passed two weeks early.”

Kim also heavily criticized the mayor and city council adopted budget, which she likened to an austerity budget, criticizing further cuts not just to education but to public libraries and parks.

The Kim campaign has raised over $15,000 in funds thus far, qualifying the campaign for over $120,000 in matching funds.

The matching funds are part of a new program to help finance city council elections. If a candidate reaches over 75 contributors in their district for $10 or more, as well as matches other basic criteria, they can qualify for 8 dollars to be matched for every dollar donated.

Kim’s campaign has also forgoed taking money from real estate developers or police unions.

Kim told BQE Media that her path to victory will center around her focus on education issues.

“We will have the best field team out there and have as many people as possible knocking on doors, getting as many people talking about education as possible,” she said. “I think it is such an important issue, especially for a district that has one of the most crowded school districts in the city.”

Other declared candidates in the District 26 race include Lorenzo Brea and Marvin Jeffcoat. The primary for this election will occur on June 27 while the general election will happen on November 7.

Pols want to ban tax lien sale

Argue program disproportionately affects Black New Yorkers

By Matthew Fischetti

[email protected]

Councilmembers Rita Joseph (D-Brooklyn), Christopher Marte (D-Manhattan) and Shekar Krishnan (D-Queens) joined supporters to rally against tax lien sale.

Electeds, advocates and supporters braved the brisk weather outside City Hall last Thursday to demand an end to the tax lien sale.

The tax lien sale was first instituted in 1996, which allows buyers to purchase the debt collected by properties that are behind on municipal costs like property taxes.

“The tax lien sale is a relic of the past. It’s a relic of the Giuliani era, and it has got to be put to an end,” Fort Greene Councilwoman Crystal Hudson said at the rally. “We have the tools we need to move forward and create solutions that build our communities up rather than tearing them down, allowing low income and moderate income homeowners to live with the dignity they deserve. And in my district, specifically, we lost 20% of our black population last year.”

In 2019, the tax lien sale generated around $80 million in revenue and recouped $300 million in unpaid property taxes prior to sale, according to Bloomberg. But critics of the program charge that the sale has led to unfair targeting of low-income homeowners and communities of color.

The tax lien sale was last used in December 2021 – which generated around $145 million, according to THE CITY.  Attempts to revive the sale failed in February 2022. Later on in May a majority of the council pledged not to reauthorize the sale.

On the heels of Thursday’s rally, advocates from East New York Community Land Trust, a community controlled non-profit founded around creating affordable housing in the Brooklyn nabe, released a 48 page report entitled “Leaving the Speculators in the Rear-View Mirror: Preserving Affordable Housing In NYC, a Municipal Debt Collection Framework”.

East New York Community Land Trust is just one of several organizations, including the Western Queens Community Land Trust, Brooklyn Level Up and New Economy Project, among others, that comprise the “Abolish the Tax Lien Sale” coalition.

The report outlines a framework in which a resident who has fell behind more than a year in payment would be able to either of the following: Enroll in a payment plan or tax exemption; transfer land to a community land trust in exchange for debt forgiveness, foreclosure and preservation as affordable housing with tenant protections; as well as foreclosure and sale with any funds from the sale going to the previous owner.

In order to prevent property owners from falling behind, the framework calls on the Department of Finance to increase staffing capacity, working with community based-organizations to expand their outreach as well as being communicative about potential benefits and explicit communication about what is owed.

The report also offers five different off ramps depending on property type. For Owners of occupied commercial or multi-family buildings without an indicator of physical distress, they can enter City Review – which screen them for different abatements and would be paired with a counselor to evaluate different plans. The review is specifically triggered when a property collects more than $5,000 in debt over two years.

If the review doesn’t resolve in a resolution, these same properties would move into a Municipal lien. Liens are also applied to properties with debt that exceed $5,000 over three years.

The third off ramp would be an offer to transfer lands to Community Land Trusts by transferring deeds to the land in exchange for debt forgiveness. Community Land Trusts are non-profit models of ownership in which the land is owned by a local non-profit in order to stabilize housing prices and aims to provide permanent affordability.

This offramp would be available to all property types except vacant lot owners.

The fourth option would force owners of occupied commercial or multi-family buildings without an indicator of physical distress to initiate foreclosure proceedings if other off-ramps aren’t taken. The property would be sold with funds going to the previous owner and the land transferred to a Community Land Trust.

The fifth option, offered for owners of multi-family properties in physical distress, unoccupied buildings and vacant lots would be “foreclosure and preservation.” Owners would still have to pay for “grossly-negligent” repairs and sacrifice their equity while the city pays for outstanding liens. Land from the properties would thereby be transferred to a Community Land Trust after being rezoned.

“This is one of the most pressing issues when it comes to housing justice, racial justice and economic justice and the intersection of all of these different crises,” Jackson Heights Councilman Shekar Krishnan said at the rally. “Here’s the two realities of the tax lien sale. One is a predatory practice for black and brown homeowners displacing them, while at the same time rewarding bad landlords and greedy developers exactly why the tax lien sale must be abolished.”

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